Our very first wool purchase was from the Corn Ranch of New Mexico, and now Mike and Bronson Corn wear WeatherWool. So WeatherWool is sheep-to-shirt-to-shelf-to-shepherd!
WeatherWool Friend and Advisor Mike Corn was recently elected President of the American Sheep Industry Association! Mike is also owner of Roswell Wool, America's largest single-building wool warehouse and auction house.
Like it says on the header of every page on this website, WeatherWool is the best pure-American Woolen Outerwear we can figure out how to make. And of course, the best woolens start with the best wool. And WeatherWool started with some super fiber from Mike Corn's Ranch in New Mexico.
It took quite a bit of research but eventually we procured the extreme-quality wool we need from Mike in New Mexico. There is some information about Mike's wool and our requirements on our Fabric page. Here, I'll just say that not only are these great sheep that are treated right, but these sheep must handle a very difficult environment.
Mike and his son Bronson raise their sheep at elevation of 3500 to 6500 feet (1067 to 1829 meters) above sea level. Summer temperatures are guaranteed to exceed 110F/43C for two or three weeks. June brings scorching hot winds. When I spoke to Mike in late 2014, the winter of 2014 had not even officially begun yet, but Mike said the temperature had already fallen below 10F/-12C. When Alex and I visited Mike in 2011 in February, low temps in the higher elevations were -30F/-34C! And of course it gets seriously windy on some of those frigid nights. The sun can be scorching, even in winter. Alex and I needed our wool to keep warm in the sub-freezing morning, but within a few hours the wool was protecting us from heat and sunburn. We were not expecting such extremes of cold and warmth and sun to all occur within few hours of each other. Luckily, with good wool, we were prepared.
Mike told us the drought that lasted from October 2010 until September 10, 2014 was the worst on record. In 35 months only 5.5 inches (14 cm) of rain fell ... worse than the dustbowl of the 1950s. The drought finally broke on September 11, with 6 inches (15 cm) of slow, soaking rain.
Several months after we sent Mike his WeatherWool he wrote us: “We love our coats and vests. My son wears his vest every day! Very well made vest, warm and sheds moisture extremely well. Thanks for making such a Great product.” And THANKS for growing such great wool!
Here are some pictures of Mike and Bronson and their sheep. Mike and Bronson are wearing WeatherWool and the sheep are wearing future WeatherWool!! Thanks for the great work, guys ... and ewes!! These pics were all taken in Mid-October (cool mornings and mild/hot days), and all the pictures show lambs, just after they were separated from their mothers.
Mike, at left, and Bronson have WeatherWool Ball Caps, Hoods, All-Around Jacs and Vests. Mike didn’t tell me exactly what was going on here, but it looks like something good. I bet this is all still good stuff, but it kinda looks like an I TOLD YOU SO moment, too!
Mike told me the toughest thing about raising his sheep, probably even tougher than the New Mexico climate, is protecting the sheep from predators.
Gray wolves, mountain lions, coyotes, golden eagles and bobcats will all kill adults and of course lambs. And a young, inexperienced ewe may even lose her lambs to crows, which will kill lambs by pecking out their eyes and then waiting for them to die.
Because the New Mexico climate is so dry, each sheep needs a lot of land to find enough food. And that means the ranches must be huge, with the sheep ranging far and wide. The areas required to raise the sheep are much too large for a rancher to really patrol regularly and protect the sheep, so guard dogs that live with the sheep are extremely important.
Mike's old Friend in the picture is an Akbash Guard Dog named DOG who has provided great protection for the sheep for several years.
Nice scene with the lamb kicking up its heels, DOG's ears back in contentment,
and Bronson and Mike feeling good about everything,
with some green grass growing again.
Funny postscript: That soaking rain and the end of the long drought produced such abundant forage that Mike's sheep grew wool that was not quite fine enough for our needs in 2015. Mike called us and explained that the sheep fattened up and so did their wool, and he knew we'd need to find fiber elsewhere for our next buy. But I’m sure we’ll be back with Mike down the road! The climate in New Mexico is dry, for sure. But it can get really cold at night even on days when the afternoon has been warm. And the sun can be intense. You need protection from the sun just as much as from the cold, and even on the same day! Wool protects the sheep and their wool -- WeatherWool garments -- will protect people from these extremes too.
We purchase Corn fiber for almost every batch of wool. Our most recent purchase of Corn fiber is part of Batch 9.
19 December 2014. Most recent update, 27 July 2022 --- Ralph